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A Complete Review of Torment
As usual, I'll rate cards only for their fun factor, how promising they are for casual play. That means that, occasionally, strong cards can get a low rating and weak ones a high one. The ratings go from 1 (Primal Frenzy) to 5 (Rancor).
ConclusionThe second expansion of a block is usually a bit lackluster, because when the first expansion comes out, all the mechanics and ideas, like threshold and flashback, are new and fresh. The third expansion is the one that pushes the boundaries of these ideas and takes bigger risks. That usually leaves the second expansion hanging. The mechanics aren't new anymore, yet aren't being pushed to their limits either.
Torment fits that mould perfectly. Threshold is still the same as it was in Odyssey, there are still no cards that trigger when your opponent has threshold or creatures that get -1/-1 when you have threshold. Flashback is still the same as well, the only addition is five cards with flashbacks that involve life payment. In the next set, I expect more varied costs like sacrificing lands and making your opponent draw a card.
Torment's only real contributions are the madness mechanic, the nightmare creatures with their effect which only lasts as long as they're in play and the idea of sets focused on a color. The madness mechanic looks like a success. It's going to be interesting to browse through old cards, looking for ones that allow quick and easy discards for use with madness. The nightmare creatures include a few that are almost too good to be true, but also some that are too easy to get rid of to be any good.
As the black set, I expected to Torment produce more solid black cards, but it seems as if Torment just got extra mediocre cards to make it feel black. Black doesn't seem any stronger than the other colors in Torment, although it has more variety, of course. Sealed and draft tournaments are going to be seriously affected, with all the rules of what colors to pick going out of the window.
This is how the ratings break down:
1 star: 18 cards
2 stars: 24 cards
3 stars: 41 cards
4 stars: 49 cards
5 stars: 11 cards
That's a lot better than I thought it would be. That's probably due to the fact that most of the cards in Torment are at least useful in a narrow range of decks, even if most aren't good or innovative or fun enough to go in normal decks. Most threshold cards will only work in decks that are built to reach threshold quickly. The madness cards need a few reliable sources of discard to work and most of the flashback cards are very mana intensive.
In the end, what matters most to me is how eager I am to get my hands on some Torment cards and build decks around them. Let's just say the money for a box of Torment is already burning a hole in my pocket, so the set gets a thumbs up from me.